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Bluesbreakers: The Wanton Bishops

Beirut bluesmen on fistfights, shot livers and their steroid stomp.

Most bands start with a classified ad. The Wanton Bishops began with a 20-man brawl. “This was four years ago,” remembers Nader Mansour. “At the time, I used to hold a jam session in a blues bar in Beirut. Actually, it was the only blues bar in Beirut. Eddy [Ghossein, guitar, banjo] would come up and jam. One night, when I went out of the bar, I saw him fighting with at least 20 valet-parking people. I knew both parties, so I had to intervene, and I got an accidental beating from both of them.”

Given that the Lebanon War dovetailed with the pair’s childhood in the early 80s, journalists have been quick to assume it must have flavoured The Wanton Bishops’ debut album, Sleep With The Lights On.

“I personally can’t hear it, but everybody else can,” grins Mansour. “Our lyrics are mostly, ‘I love you, you don’t love me, what the fuck do we do?’ Or about drinking your liver half to death. We try to be poetic sometimes, but the blues is direct.

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